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Archive for the ‘coronavirus’ Category

Has Omicron peaked? by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 27, 2022:

The last two weeks have seemed like a mini shut down, at least in my little corner of the world. The schools shut down two extra days over the Martin Luther King weekend for deep cleaning and because one hundred staff members and teachers were absent. The prayer lists grew longer as one family after another reported cases of COVID/Omicron, Cedar Fever, and other forms of upper respiratory distress, and the lunch crowd at the Senior Center was barely into double digits. The Believers’ Baptist Friday Night Home Group was canceled two weeks in a row, Wednesday morning Bible study was canceled last week, and church attendance on January 16 was about half of normal. Then, just about the time David and I were getting back to the gym after his back issues, we missed two weeks while we experienced alternate bouts of sniffles, congestion, and lots of fatigue that led to many unscheduled naps. Some shelves at Brookshire’s were unusually bare, and there were no harried workers in the aisle restocking them – and I began to have flashbacks to the fall of 2020.

It wasn’t all bad, though. During our mini-isolation I made some progress on the to-be-read stack of books on my bedside table, and for those of you who are Tatia fans, I added several chapters to the rough draft of the next book in the series. I caught up on the laundry – although I think I’m now behind again – and did a little bit of early spring cleaning. I didn’t have the energy for anything elaborate in the kitchen, but thanks to my Crock Pot and Instant Pot, we had some really good comfort food and some not-so-good-for us snacks. We watched lots of TV – some good movies and some real stinkers – and Kitty enjoyed snuggling with David on the couch on the really cold days.

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To hug or not to hug | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on February 9, 2021:

What is one of the first things we say to our grandchildren when we see them? I have no scientific proof to back this up, but it’s probably something like Come give Grandma a hug! And more than likely, the kids come running. Maybe it’s because they know that Grandma usually brings treats, or maybe it’s because there’s something in human nature that craves the touch of another person.

One of my favorite stories from our family history is of a cousin who went to her grandmother and asked for a hug. It must have been cool, because the older woman had on long sleeves. She picked up the little girl and gave her a squeeze, but the child wasn’t satisfied. “No, Grandma,” she said as she patted her arms. “I need to feel skin.”

It’s a cute, feel-good story, but the theories of some healthcare professionals seem to back up the little girl’s need. In an article dated March 1, 2010, Maia Szalavitz of Psychology Today stated that touch can ease pain and lift depression. She further said that babies who are denied touch through lack of being held, nuzzled or hugged may fail to thrive and may even die if the situation continues too long. In April of 2018, the Healthline website quoted family therapist Virginia Satir as saying “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”

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You’re in the Army now! by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on January 26, 2021:

No, I didn’t go to my local recruiter and sign up. Military enlistments are down, but I don’t think they’re desperate enough to accept a mature woman like me. I did, however, do something almost as controversial, and one gentleman who shared my experience said it was like enlisting in the Army. I wasn’t sure until the last minute that I was actually going through with it, but on Saturday morning I received the first of two doses of a COVID vaccine.

The vaccines have been the subject of much conjecture, argument, and discussion since March 30, 2020 when the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services initiated Operation Warp Speed to develop a vaccine. Since then, I’ve been caught between two opposing sides of the argument.

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COVID Jail |by Linda Brendle

David and I spent the weekend in COVID jail – not because we had the virus, but because we didn’t. He had some minor surgery on his hand on Monday at the VA in Dallas, and as part of the pre-op procedure, we had to go in Friday for him to have a COVID test. The results were negative, but as we were leaving, the nurse said, “You’ll need to self-quarantine until the procedure on Monday.” Not too bad, we thought at first. Then we began to think about specifics.

“Are you gonna text the Schutters’ and let them know we won’t be at Home Group tonight?” asked David. Dirk was serving bratwurst and red cabbage, so I had done an Internet search for an appropriate side dish. I had prepared pickled beets and eggs earlier in the week so the eggs would have plenty of time to absorb the flavor and the color. I had even dragged out a decorative platter – as opposed to my usual redneck Tupperware – so I could create an attractive presentation. I explained to David that I planned to drop my contribution off – at a proper distance – and that I’d let them know what was going on while I was there. (more…)

Mask-Go-Round | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on September 22, 2020:

Masks used to be something that appeared on the store shelves sometime in September in preparation for Halloween, something worn to prevent frostbite while skiing, or something worn during the commission of a crime to hide one’s identity. In the last few months, they’ve become a life and death matter to some, a symbol of the loss of individual freedom to others, and a matter of regulation to the government.

We didn’t have to deal with masks in Rains County at first because it took us a while to reach the threshold of 20 active cases for mandatory masks. However, well before I had to deal with covering my own face, I was very aware of the controversy that surrounded the little pieces of cloth that have caused such a kerfuffle. Even I don’t spend that much time with my head in the sand.

Our neighbor Connie had given us several of the medical-style masks before anyone ever heard of COVID-19 just because she believes in being prepared. David always wears one when he mows, but other than that, they stayed in the kitchen junk drawer or the console of the car – just in case. I never really gave them a thought until the day I stopped by the Senior Center to pick up a couple of grab-and-go meals and received an unusual greeting. Instead of Margaret’s usual cheerful hello-how-are-you welcome, she was waving a pleated rectangle with loops on either end and saying “Gotta have a mask to come in!” The Center is operated by the East Texas Council of Government and is subject to their rules.

I stopped in my tracks. “I have one in my car. I’ll go get it.”

“No,” she said. “I’ll give you one.” (more…)

The best of times, the worst of times | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on August 18, 2020:

best of timesA Tale of Two Cities, the epic historical novel by Charles Dickens, begins with a famous opening sentence:  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. If you ask most people which of these two choices would best describe 2020 so far, a huge majority would probably choose the latter. Up until last week, I would have readily agreed – but now I’m not so sure.

One night I couldn’t go to sleep, so I left David deep in the land of Nod and went into the living room. After reading for a while, I picked up my phone and began scrolling through some of the posts I don’t usually take the time to look at during the day. Fortunately, few political or controversial posts show up on my timeline – probably because of the type of posts I respond to. Whatever the reason, most of what I get are photos of birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, weddings and other family gatherings. (more…)

In this Together – or Not | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on August 11, 2020:

we're in this togetherDuring this time of pandemic, social distancing and isolation, the slogan “We’re in this together” has become popular on the news and social media. Many YouTube personalities use it as a tag line to end their videos. However, after seeing people in action, I wonder if we really understand what being in something together really means.

One example of why I wonder happened recently at the gym where David and I work out wipe down equipmentregularly. Before you begin to compose your critique of our workout habits, let me say that the Anytime Fitness in Emory is probably safer than my home. The 6,000 square foot facility allows plenty of space for the machines to be placed at an acceptable social distance from each other. Containers of disinfecting wipes and spray bottles of disinfectant are placed throughout the gym, and clients are required to wipe down machines before and after each use. In addition, the manager Kim is constantly vacuuming and wiping down anything that doesn’t move – so don’t rest too long between sets. And finally, at the time David and I work out, there are usually between two and six other patrons there.

Pig lifting weightsAmong those patrons are two men who work out together, alternately pumping iron and encouraging and spotting for each other. They use the free weights while I stick with the machines on the other end of the building, but I sometimes face in their direction, and watching them takes my mind off my own pain. On the day of my example, they were pressing dumbbells of a size I wouldn’t be able to lift with both hands. Man #1 lay down on the bench and begin to work while man #2 stood at the head of the bench. The headphones of #1 slipped into an uncomfortable position and #2 stepped up and repositioned them without disrupting the flow of the repetitions. As #1 reached the limit of his strength, his arm muscles began to quiver a bit and his speed slowed as he struggled. On the last repetition, he stopped halfway, unable to complete the lift. But #2 stepped up and placed the tips of his index fingers under #1’s elbows and applied just enough pressure to get #1 past the hard spot and allow him to finish.

I smiled as I watched this example of working together, and I looked forward to seeing the interaction when #2 took the bench. Let’s just say I was underwhelmed. As soon as #1 stood up, he grabbed his cell phone and stared at the little screen the entire time #2 went through his presses. In it together? Maybe not.

Another example is further away geographically but closer emotionally. My son and his quarantinefamily live in Granbury – a five hour round trip – so we don’t see them very often, especially since COVID. But Christian and I text regularly, and we recently had a conversation about people we know who have been infected. He told about a couple who invited them to dinner and then tested positive the next day. Thankfully, he had declined the invitation. The heartbreaking part about the situation is that the couple had recently returned from a trip to Mexico and had opted not to quarantine for the suggested fourteen-day period.

Another popular subject on social media, the afternoon talk shows, and the evening news is “my rights.” Some people seem to think that the Constitution grants them the right to do whatever they want to do. But as my brother used to say, my right to swing my arm stops at the end of the other person’s nose. And being in this together may require you to give up some of the things you want to do for the good of someone else.

Blessings,

Linda

Kitty’s Story

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long Goodbye

A Long and Winding Road

Living in a Micro World | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 28, 2020:

family cemeteryThere was a time not too many centuries ago when it was not uncommon for a person to live their entire life within a few miles of the place where they were born. The furthest they traveled was to the nearest town for supplies, church and school. They socialized with family and friends from nearby farms, picked a mate from that small pool of choices, raised children, died at home and were laid to rest in the community cemetery.

Then, in the early 19th century, Samuel Morse and other inventors developed a way to transmit electrical signals over long distances, and the communication revolution began. It wasn’t long before radios, telephones, televisions, computers and satellites opened up the world to those little insulated areas. While all this was going on, other inventors transformed travel with the creation of steamboats, trains, automobiles, airplanes and rockets.

Almost overnight, at least from a historical perspective, civilization changed from a communication revolutioncollection of micro or extremely small communities to one macro or large scale, we-are-the-world society. Most of us live somewhere between those two extremes, but there are times when I feel like COVID has pushed us back into a micro world. It’s not the ultra-isolated world of the pre-electronic age. We still have instant access to more information than we can or want to take in, but our pool of human contacts has dried up to a puddle. I became very aware of that this past weekend. (more…)

Kitty and the Virus | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 21, 2020:

(Some stories in this column may be a bit hard to believe, but keep in mind that I write fiction as well as fact.)

Kitty peeking out 043016Kitty may be just a cat, but she knows what’s going on. She’s aware that there is a virus out there that sometimes circulates among camels and bats – and cats. At first, she was pretty casual about the whole thing, but as the numbers have risen, she has become more cautious.

When the panic first hit and the world as we know it shut down, she could still count the number of COVID-19 cases in Rains County on one paw. She wasn’t the least bit worried, and she seemed to enjoy having us home all the time. She spent many happy hours lying next to David on the couch while he searched the internet for another British detective series for our next round of binge watching. She even came to visit me on the love seat two or three times. (more…)

Bullies | by Linda Brendle

Published in the Rains County Leader on July 14, 2020:

BulliesA bully is defined as a person who habitually seeks to harm or intimidate those whom they perceive as vulnerable. Bullies have been around since the snake bullied Eve into eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, but the act of bullying has become institutionalized in today’s society.

There were mean kids when I was in school, but their rights to torment the weak were superseded by the rights of the teachers to maintain order and discipline. That’s not to say that no one was taunted or made to feel “less than.” (more…)

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